Monday, August 26th, 2013
A Michigan parents group has spoken out against Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” because a character in the movie, Butch Cavendish, appears to have a cleft lip. In promotions for the movie, Cavendish is described as “a ruthless outlaw whose terribly scarred face is a perfect reflection of the bottomless pit that passes for his soul.” Moms from the Michigan Cleft Network are concerned that this could create problems for children with cleft lip or cleft palate.
Here’s more from The Huffington Post:
Detroit news station WDIV-TV spoke to several women from Michigan Cleft Network. Christy Mausolf said that the movie upset her because her daughter, 4-year-old Gracie, was born with a unilateral cleft lip and palate and has had seven surgeries, she told WDIV-TV.
“It’s really hard to see, because we don’t look at her as being scary or mean or even different, for that matter,” she says in the WDIV video report, above. “I just wish they would realize that you can’t just throw these things out there, that there are people who have differences and they don’t need any more excuses for bullying.”
Teresa Croughen formed Michigan Cleft as a support network for parents when her now 8-year-old son, Johnny, was born with multiple clefts.
“I wanted to make sure no family out there, at least in Michigan, was going to have a child born with something as common as a cleft and feel as isolated as I did, or as overwhelmed,” she told The Huffington Post. “I had a beautiful baby and all anyone could see is the hole in his face.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,651 babies in the United States are born with a cleft palate each year and 4,437 babies are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate.
Image: Butch Cavendish, via Zap2It
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Friday, May 10th, 2013
Merida, the spunky, wild-haired heroine of the Disney film “Brave,” is set to become Disney’s 11th official princess on May 11. But a makeover of her look has moms and fans incensed and disappointed that Merida’s new appearance puts her in line with stereotypical princess and distances her from what many moms considered to be her status as the first feminist princess. More from The Huffington Post:
For parents who have been frustrated by the messages Disney princesses send to young girls (look pretty, find your prince, live happily ever after), introducing a character like Merida seemed to be a step in a good direction. As HuffPost blogger Kristen Howerton wrote when the film was first released, “‘Brave’ may be considered by many to be the first feminist princess movie. Merida does not pine for a prince to come to her rescue, and solves her own problems without the aid of a suitor.” The character was independent, hada realistic body type, and succeeded sans prince charming. Unsurprisingly, messing with that by giving her a new look is causing an uproar.
A Mighty Girl, a female empowerment website, has launched a petition on Change.org to convince Disney to leave Merida alone. Clearly, she has a loyal fanbase — the petition has almost 19,000 signatures.
The letter on Change.org reads, in part:
“The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model who speaks to girls’ capacity to be change agents in the world rather than just trophies to be admired. Moreover, by making her skinnier, sexier and more mature in appearance, you are sending a message to girls that the original, realistic, teenage-appearing version of Merida is inferior; that for girls and women to have value — to be recognized as true princesses — they must conform to a narrow definition of beauty.”So far, there has been an outpouring of agreement. Peggy Orenstein, the author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter who is often at the forefront of discussions about how princess culture affects young girls, thinks Merida’s makeover sends a terrible message: “In the end, it wasn’t about being brave after all. It was about being pretty,” Orenstein writes on her personal blog.
Image: Merida’s new look (left) and her original appearance (right), via The Huffington Post
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Monday, March 18th, 2013
Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks and resorts will, beginning March 23, no longer allow children under age 14 to enter the park unless they are accompanied by someone who is over age 14. The new rule isn’t a response to any particular incident, but it was put in place after visitor surveys and child welfare organizations both expressed concern about the safety of children who are unaccompanied in the parks. More from The Associated Press:
“If a cast member who is working at the front gates sees a guest who appears to be younger than 14 without someone who appears to be older than that, they will engage in a conversation with the guest,” Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown told NBC4.
The employee will verbally determine whether the guest is too young to enter on his or her own, since children that age typically do not carry identification with them, she said. The child’s parent or guardian would then be contacted if the visitor is underage, and that adult would need to physically come accompany the child into the park.
Disney chose the age of 14 after the company surveyed its guests and reached out to organizations that deal with child welfare, Brown said. She said both the organizations and visitors agreed on the new age limit.
“That was the age they felt was appropriate,” she said. “That’s also the age the Red Cross recommends for babysitting.”
Image: Girl in amusement park, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
Walt Disney World is revealing plans to launch a new way of experiencing its parks–an electronic bracelet encoded with credit card information and technology to enable guests to make purchases within the parks and be notified when they are at the front of the line for popular rides. But even though Disney says the “MyMagic+” initiative will make a Disney vacation far less complicated for its estimated 30 million annual visitors, the system is raising some eyebrows among those who are concern with the privacy issues inherent in any data collection and “customized” marketing. From The New York Times:
The initiative is part of a broader effort, estimated by analysts to cost between $800 million and $1 billion, to make visiting Disney parks less daunting and more amenable to modern consumer behavior. Disney is betting that happier guests will spend more money.
“If we can enhance the experience, more people will spend more of their leisure time with us,” said Thomas O. Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts.
The ambitious plan moves Disney deeper into the hotly debated terrain of personal data collection. Like most major companies, Disney wants to have as much information about its customers’ preferences as it can get, so it can appeal to them more efficiently. The company already collects data to use in future sales campaigns, but parts of MyMagic+ will allow Disney for the first time to track guest behavior in minute detail.
Did you buy a balloon? What attractions did you ride and when? Did you shake Goofy’s hand, but snub Snow White? If you fully use MyMagic+, databases will be watching, allowing Disney to refine its offerings and customize its marketing messages.
Disney is aware of potential privacy concerns, especially regarding children. The plan, which comes as the federal government is trying to strengthen online privacy protections, could be troublesome for a company that some consumers worry is already too controlling.
Image via Marketplace.org
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Monday, November 5th, 2012
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars who sold his storied franchise to The Walt Disney Company for $4 billion last week, has announced he will donate most of the money to charity. The gift will make him one of the most generous givers in the world, according to Forbes.com:
“I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education,” Lucas wrote in his pledge letter. “It is the key to the survival of the human race. We have to plan for our collective future — and the first step begins with the social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our children. As humans, our greatest tool for survival is our ability to think and to adapt — as educators, storytellers, and communicators our responsibility is to continue to do so.”
Lucas founded the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the website Edutopia to reform and improve K-12 education. The foundation emphasizes hands-on, project-based learning over plodding devotion to standardized tests and traditional textbooks. It highlights innovative teaching efforts that are already working in classrooms. You can read more about Lucas’ efforts in a Q&A with Forbes’ Luisa Kroll.
While Lucas may choose to donate the billions he made from selling Lucasfilm to a broader range of efforts, it is likely that a large portion will be distributed to this cause. And when Lucas does make that donation official, he will have placed himself into rarified company among philanthropists. Only a select few billionaires will have given away as much as he plans to. While his $4 billion won’t get him as far as [Bill] Gates or [Warren] Buffett, who have donated more than $45 billion combined, Lucas is following their example and should reach the next tier of biggest givers.
Image: George Lucas, via cinemafestival / Shutterstock.com
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